Teaching ELL Students Persuasive Writing

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  • 0:03 The Art of Persuasion
  • 1:41 Persuading ELLs
  • 4:04 The Persuasive Process
  • 4:59 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

Being a good writer requires many different skills. This lesson discusses methods and strategies teachers can use to teach persuasive writing to ELLs.

The Art of Persuasion

Persuasive writing is the ability to influence or change someone else's opinion through writing based on facts, emotions, and specific examples. Persuasive writing is a valuable academic, professional, and social skill that can benefit all students and ELLs, English language learners, in several arenas. Persuasive writing allows students to express ideas and opinions and is a valuable tool for working through ideas.

Before you employ the persuasive writing methods and strategies outlined next, it's vital to provide your ELL students with an understanding of how persuasive writing is both defined and created.

The first method you can employ with your ELLs is to make sure they understand the following points:

  • In persuasive writing, the writer tries to convince the reader to accept, understand, or agree with the writer's opinion or point of view.

  • While persuasive writing can and does include personal opinions, effective persuasive writers also use objective and subjective sources to back up and strengthen the writer's arguments.
    • Objective sources include facts, statistics, and historical events. When an objective source is used, the source must be properly referenced and cited.
    • Subjective sources include anecdotes, common knowledge, personal opinions, quotations, and editorials. Some subjective sources, such as quotations and editorials, should be cited.

  • Good persuasive writing appeals to both logic and emotion.

Be sure to review and discuss these points as much as needed to ensure your ELLs are properly prepared for a more in-depth look at persuasive writing.

Persuading ELLs

Depending on the ages and abilities of your ELLs, they may or may not have existing knowledge of how persuasive writing is both structured and communicated. The very fact that they must write in English can be a hindrance to expressing relevant ideas and opinions. ELLs sometimes tend to worry about making grammar and spelling errors, and this concern can, in turn, prevent them from fully fleshing out ideas.

To avoid this kind of hesitation and uncertainty, remind students that many types of writing, including persuasive writing, can and should be reviewed and improved multiple times. In fact, ELLs can benefit greatly from discussing ideas verbally before putting pen to paper. When students work through ideas with others, they are given an opportunity to hear a variety of viewpoints and opinions. Before writing, have students verbally describe how they would try to convince a teacher or parent to:

  • Give them more time to complete homework assignments
  • Let them take a trip without parental supervision
  • Buy them a new, expensive video game
  • Let them join a sports team
  • Give more opportunities for extra credit

Having ELL students practice verbalizing persuasive ideas before putting pen to paper can help them learn how to use reasoning and logic quickly. This skill will benefit them as they develop persuasive writing abilities.

Be sure to provide opportunities for ELLs to work through multiple drafts of any persuasive writing assignments. Multiple drafts allow students to correct grammar errors, focus arguments, and improve structure. To make drafting a positive activity, include them in the overall score for an assignment. For example, make the successful completion of a first draft 20% of the final score.

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